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BRAILLE (/ˈbreɪl/ ; French: ) is a tactile writing system used by
people who are blind or visually impaired . It is traditionally
written with embossed paper.
In the face of screen reader software, braille usage has declined. However, because it teaches spelling and punctuation, braille education remains important for developing reading skills among blind and visually impaired children, and braille literacy correlates with higher employment rates.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Derivation * 1.2 Assignment
* 2 Form
* 3 Writing braille
* 3.1 Letters * 3.2 Formatting * 3.3 Punctuation * 3.4 Contractions * 3.5 Page dimensions
* 4 Literacy
* 4.1 U.S. braille literacy statistics * 4.2 United Kingdom
The first ten letters of the alphabet, a–j, use the upper four dot positions: ⠁⠃⠉⠙⠑⠋⠛⠓⠊ ⠚ (black dots in the table below). These stand for the ten digits 1–9 and 0 in a system parallel to Hebrew gematria and Greek isopsephy . (Though the dots are assigned in no obvious order, the cells with the fewest dots are assigned to the first three letters (and lowest digits), abc = 123 (⠁⠃⠉), and to the three vowels in this part of the alphabet, aei (⠁⠑⠊), whereas the even digits, 4, 6, 8, 0 (⠙⠋⠓⠚), are corners/right angles.)
The next ten letters, k–t, are identical to a–j, respectively, apart from the addition of a dot at position 3 (red dots in the table): ⠅⠇⠍⠝⠕⠏⠟⠗⠎⠞:
Derivation (colored dots) of the 26 letters of the alphabet from the 10 numeric digits (black dots)
a /1 b /2 c /3 d /4 e /5 f /6 g /7 h /8 i /9 j /0
k l m n o p q r s t
u v x y z w
The next ten letters (the next "decade") are the same again, but with
dots also at positions both 3 and 6 (green dots). Here w was left out
as not being a part of the official
The next ten, ending in w, are the same again, except that for this series position 6 (purple dot) is used without position 3. These are â ê î ô û ë ï ü ö w (⠡⠣⠩⠹⠱⠫⠻⠳⠪⠺).
The a–j series lowered by one dot space (⠂⠆⠒⠲⠢⠖⠶⠦⠔⠴) are used for punctuation. Letters a ⠁ and c ⠉, which only use dots in the top row, were lowered two places for the apostrophe and hyphen: ⠄⠤. (These are the decade diacritics, at left in the table below, of the second and third decade.)
In addition, there are ten patterns that are based on the first two letters (⠁⠃) shifted to the right; these were assigned to non-French letters (ì ä ò ⠌⠜⠬), or serve non-letter functions: ⠈ (superscript; in English the accent mark), ⠘ (currency prefix), ⠨ (capital, in English the decimal point), ⠼ (number sign), ⠸ (emphasis mark), ⠐ (symbol prefix).
The 64 braille cells DECADE
5TH shift down
Originally there had been nine decades. The fifth through ninth used
dashes as well as dots, but proved to be impractical and was soon
abandoned. These could be replaced with what we now know as the number
sign (⠼), though that only caught on for the digits (old 5th decade
→ modern 1st decade). The dash occupying the top row of the original
sixth decade was simply dropped, producing the modern fifth decade.
Historically, there have been three principles in assigning the values of a linear script (print) to Braille: Using Louis Braille's original French letter values; reassigning the braille letters according to the sort order of the print alphabet being transcribed; and reassigning the letters to improve the efficiency of writing in braille.
Under international consensus, most braille alphabets follow the French sorting order for the 26 letters of the basic Latin alphabet , and there have been attempts at unifying the letters beyond these 26 (see international braille ), though differences remain, for example in German Braille and the contractions of English Braille . This unification avoids the chaos of each nation reordering the braille code to match the sorting order of its print alphabet, as happened in Algerian Braille , where braille codes were numerically reassigned to match the order of the Arabic alphabet and bear little relation to the values used in other countries (compare modern Arabic Braille , which uses the French sorting order), and as happened in an early American version of English Braille, where the letters w, x, y, z were reassigned to match English alphabetical order. A convention sometimes seen for letters beyond the basic 26 is to exploit the physical symmetry of braille patterns iconically, for example, by assigning a reversed n to ñ or an inverted s to sh. (See Hungarian Braille and Bharati Braille , which do this to some extent.)
A third principle was to assign braille codes according to frequency,
with the simplest patterns (quickest ones to write) assigned to the
most frequent letters of the alphabet. Such frequency-based alphabets
were used in Germany and the United States in the 19th century (see
American Braille ), but none are attested in modern use. Finally,
there are braille scripts which don't order the codes numerically at
all, such as
Japanese Braille and
Academic texts are sometimes written in a script of eight dots per cell rather than six, enabling them to encode a greater number of symbols. (See Gardner–Salinas braille codes .) Luxembourgish Braille has adopted eight-dot cells for general use; for example, it adds a dot below each letter to derive its capital variant.
Silver wedding bands with names Henri(que) and Tita written in braille
Within an individual cell, the dot positions are arranged in two
columns of three positions. A raised dot can appear in any of the six
positions, producing sixty-four (26) possible patterns, including one
in which there are no raised dots. For reference purposes, a pattern
is commonly described by listing the positions where dots are raised,
the positions being universally numbered, from top to bottom, as 1 to
3 on the left and 4 to 6 on the right. For example, dot pattern 1-3-4
describe a cell with three dots raised, at the top and bottom in the
left column and at the top of the right column: that is, the letter
⠍ m. The lines of horizontal
In addition to simple encoding, many braille alphabets use contractions to reduce the size of braille texts and to increase reading speed. (See Contracted braille )
The first 25 braille letters, up through the first half of the 3rd decade, transcribe a–z (skipping w). In English Braille, the rest of that decade is rounded out with the ligatures and, for, of, the, and with. Omitting dot 3 from these forms the 4th decade, the ligatures ch, gh, sh, th, wh, ed, er, ou, ow and the letter w.
ch sh th
(See English Braille .)
Various formatting marks affect the values of the letters that follow them. They have no direct equivalent in print. The most important in English Braille are:
Basic punctuation marks in English Braille include:
Full stop (Period) Exclamation point Open quote , question mark Close quote Bracket (Parentheses) Slash (Fraction)
⠦ is both the question mark and the opening quotation mark. Its reading depends on whether it occurs before a word or after.
⠶ is used for both opening and closing parentheses. Its placement relative to spaces and other characters determines its interpretation.
Punctuation varies from language to language. For example, French
For a full list of abbreviations and contractions in English, see English Braille § Contractions .
afternoon (a-f-n) mother (dot 5-m) hand (h-and)
Most braille embossers support between 34 and 40 cells per line, and 25 lines per page.
A manually operated Perkins braille typewriter supports a maximum of 42 cells per line (its margins are adjustable), and typical paper allows 25 lines per page.
A large interlining Stainsby has 36 cells per line and 18 lines per page.
An A4-sized Marburg braille frame, which allows interpoint braille (dots on both sides of the page, offset so they do not interfere with each other) has 30 cells per line and 27 lines per page.
Main article: Braille literacy
A sighted child who is reading at a basic level should be able to understand common words and answer simple questions about the information presented. The child should also have enough fluency to get through the material in a timely manner. Over the course of a child's education, these foundations are built upon to teach higher levels of math, science, and comprehension skills.
Children who are blind not only have the education disadvantage of not being able to see — they also miss out on fundamental parts of early and advanced education if not provided with the necessary tools. Children who are blind or visually impaired can begin learning pre-braille skills from a very young age to become fluent braille readers as they get older.
U.S. BRAILLE LITERACY STATISTICS
In 1960, 50% of legally blind , school-age children were able to read braille in the U.S. According to the 2015 Annual Report from the American Printing House for the Blind , there were 61,739 legally blind students registered in the U.S. Of these, 8.6% (5,333) were registered as braille readers, 31% (19,109) as visual readers, 9.4% (5,795) as auditory readers, 17% (10,470) as pre-readers, and 34% (21,032) as non-readers.
There are numerous causes for the decline in braille usage, including school budget constraints, technology advancement, and different philosophical views over how blind children should be educated.
A key turning point for braille literacy was the passage of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 , an act of Congress that moved thousands
of children from specialized schools for the blind into mainstream
public schools. Because only a small percentage of public schools
could afford to train and hire braille-qualified teachers, braille
literacy has declined since the law took effect.
In 1998 there were 57,425 legally blind students registered in the United States, but only 10% (5,461) of them used braille as their primary reading medium.
Although it is possible to transcribe print by simply substituting the equivalent braille character for its printed equivalent, in English such a character-by-character transcription (known as uncontracted braille) is only used by beginners.
Fully contracted braille is known as Grade 2 Braille. There is an
intermediate form between Computer Braille—one-for-one identity with
print—and Grade 2, which is called Grade 1 Braille. In Grade 1, the
capital sign and
The system of contractions in English Braille begins with a set of 23 words which are contracted to single characters. Thus the word but is contracted to the single letter b, can to c, do to d, and so on. Even this simple rule creates issues requiring special cases; for example, d is, specifically, an abbreviation of the verb do; the noun do representing the note of the musical scale is a different word, and must be spelled out.
Portions of words may be contracted, and many rules govern this
process. For example, the character with dots 2-3-5 (the letter "f"
lowered in the
Some contractions are more similar than their print equivalents. For example, the contraction ⟨lr⟩, meaning 'letter', differs from ⟨ll⟩, meaning 'little', only in adding one dot to the second ⟨l⟩: ⠇ ⠇ little, ⠇ ⠗ letter. This causes greater confusion between the braille spellings of these words and can hinder the learning process of contracted braille.
The contraction rules take into account the linguistic structure of the word; thus, contractions are generally not to be used when their use would alter the usual braille form of a base word to which a prefix or suffix has been added. Some portions of the transcription rules are not fully codified and rely on the judgment of the transcriber. Thus, when the contraction rules permit the same word in more than one way, preference is given to "the contraction that more nearly approximates correct pronunciation."
BRAILLE TRANSLATION SOFTWARE
When people produce braille, this is called braille transcription.
When computer software produces braille, this is called braille
This unified braille has been applied to the languages of
OTHER BRAILLE CONVENTIONS
Other systems for assigning values to braille patterns are also followed beside the simple mapping of the alphabetical order onto the original French order. Some braille alphabets start with unified braille , and then diverge significantly based on the phonology of the target languages, while others diverge even further.
In the various Chinese systems, traditional braille values are used for initial consonants and the simple vowels. In both Mandarin and Cantonese Braille , however, characters have different readings depending on whether they are placed in syllable-initial (onset) or syllable-final (rime) position. For instance, the cell for Latin k, ⠅, represents Cantonese k (g in Yale and other modern romanizations) when initial, but aak when final, while Latin j, ⠚, represents Cantonese initial j but final oei.
Novel systems of braille mapping include Korean, which adopts separate syllable-initial and syllable-final forms for its consonants, explicitly grouping braille cells into syllabic groups in the same way as hangul . Japanese, meanwhile, combines independent vowel dot patterns and modifier consonant dot patterns into a single braille cell – an abugida representation of each Japanese mora .
A bottle of Chapoutier wine, with braille on the label An embossed map of a German train station, with braille text
The current series of Canadian banknotes has a tactile feature consisting of raised dots that indicate the denomination, allowing bills to be easily identified by blind or low vision people. It does not use standard braille; rather, the feature uses a system developed in consultation with blind and low vision Canadians after research indicated that braille was not sufficiently robust and that not all potential users read braille. Mexican bank notes Australian bank notes , Indian rupee notes, Israeli New Shekel notes, Russian Ruble and Swiss Franc notes also have special raised symbols to make them identifiable by persons who are blind or low vision.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires various building signage to be in braille.
In the United Kingdom, it is required that medicines have the name of
the medicine in
Australia also recently introduced the tactile feature onto their five dollar banknote
Main article: Unicode braille patterns
Most braille embossers and refreshable braille displays do not support Unicode, using instead 6-dot braille ASCII . Some embossers have proprietary control codes for 8-dot braille or for full graphics mode, where dots may be placed anywhere on the page without leaving any space between braille cells so that continuous lines can be drawn in diagrams, but these are rarely used and are not standard.
The Unicode standard encodes 8-dot braille glyphs according to their binary appearance, rather than following their assigned numeric order. Dot 1 corresponds to the least significant bit of the low byte of the Unicode scalar value, and dot 8 to the high bit of that byte.
The Unicode block for braille is U+2800 ... U+28FF:
BRAILLE PATTERNS Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
(end of 6-dot cell patterns)
NOTES 1.^ As of Unicode version 10.0
Every year on the 4th of January, World
* Accessible publishing * Braille literacy * Braille music * Braille technology * Braille translator * Braille watch * English Braille * List of binary codes * List of international common standards * Moon type * Needle punch * Nemeth Braille (for math) * Refreshable Braille display * Tactile alphabets for the blind * Tactile graphic * Tangible symbol systems * Unified English Braille
* ^ The characters have been arranged by decade, with decade
diacritics listed at left, and supplementary characters included on
the right according to their diacritic. See
* ^ Braille, Louis (1829). Method of Writing Words, Music, and
Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for
* ^ "How
Wikimedia Commons has media related to BRAILLE .
* Association Valentin Haüy * Alternate Text Production Center
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